Foreign Policy Blogs

Olympics: A Time Capsule of the Mid-20th Century

These days, the anachronism of the U.N. Security Council has long been taken for granted. After all, the world has moved on a bit from 60 years ago when four European counties and China called the shots.

Or has it?

Of the five top gold medal winners in the London Olympics, only South Korea is not a permanent member of the Security Council. (Only laggard France let down the SC team by coming in 7th).

And developing giants Brazil and India are as conspicuously absent from the medal rankings as they are from the U.N. power nucleus.

The Olympics were a strangely vintage ritual all-round.  Like a mid-cold war time capsule: the utopianism of the parade of nations, optimistic looking young men and women in strange, coordinated boilersuits favored by baddies from Austin Powers, the obsession with nation states and peace between nations; all of this organised and presided over by royals and minor nobles (all of them middle aged men with very straight postures) and in French!

So how to explain this strange time capsule effect? And (perhaps a more controversial question): how to explain why the the rising powers remain locked out of the medals tables? A few writers have attempted to come up with an answer.

Whatever the cause, these games have been a major consolation to geopolitical has-beens like Russia. People may be calling for its demotion from BRICS, but there is still one area where Brazil and India look like the interlopers.

 

Author

Vadim Nikitin
Vadim Nikitin

Vadim Nikitin was born in Murmansk, Russia and grew up there and in Britain. He graduated from Harvard University with a thesis on American democracy promotion in Russia. Vadim's articles about Russia have appeared in The Nation, Dissent Magazine, and The Moscow Times. He is currently researching a comparative study of post-Soviet and post-Apartheid nostalgia.
Areas of Focus:
USSR; US-Russia Relations; Culture and Society; Media; Civil Society; Politics; Espionage; Oligarchs

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